2015 UK Tour - Classical Guitar Masterworks

Writing these words, I find myself at a place of consolidation and calm following a whirlwind period of wonderful concerts, fascinating travels and colourful experiences. Another very enjoyable UK tour has now come to an end, and I have been very lucky to be able to share the music of the guitar with such consistently warm and appreciative audiences.  

One of the most gratifying aspects of being able to organise one’s own tour schedule is the freedom of choice that one retains when it comes to selecting venues. It’s completely acceptable to concede that I have become increasingly more indulgent when it comes to selecting concert venues, and indeed throughout May, June and July 2015 I have had the opportunity to perform in some of the UK’s most glorious spaces.  

I’m sure that any recitalist will agree that it is always a careful process when one is selecting a programme of music for a series of concerts, and it was my aim with this tour to deliver a programme that had some real meat in it. With this desire in mind, I set about compiling the Classical Guitar Masterworks concert programme that went on to become the over-arching theme of the tour. With this selection of music, I attempted to take audiences on a journey that encapsulated the many qualities of the guitar as an instrument capable of sublime expression. Combining a selection of well-known works with pieces that are a little less familiar, it was hugely satisfying to witness just how much the audiences at every concert enjoyed the programme.

Gloucester Cathedral, Saturday 9th May 2015 (photograph by Gabriela Wernicke-Marfo)

The 2015 UK Tour began with an evening concert in the Chapter House at the wonderful Gloucester Cathedral on Saturday 9th May. I couldn’t have hoped to begin with a more receptive audience than those that turned out in Gloucester: enthusiastic, warm and a pleasure to be in the company of. The atmosphere was sublime, and developed even further when the early summer sun went down and the flicker of the candles proceeded to light the concert. Also worth mentioning is the incredible natural acoustic that exists in the Chapter House at Gloucester Cathedral, the space being perfect for the subtle sonorities of the classical guitar.

A few days later on Tuesday 12th May I was in Manchester for an evening recital at the gorgeous St Ann’s Church. Located in the City Centre, this serene location possesses that elusive sense of calm that only urban churches seem to retain, a complete contrast to the surrounding bustle of the city streets. This was my first time at St Ann’s, and I was delighted by the welcome that I received from both those involved with the organisation of the concert and the audience alike.

St Ann's Church, Tuesday 12th May 2015

The tour continued with dates in the magnificent Cathedrals of Ripon (Thursday 12th May), Ely (Saturday 27th June) and Wells (Friday 17th July). Returning to all three of these venues, it was just great to be back to perform for what can only be described as three truly humbling audiences. It’s always a pleasure to see familiar faces, as well as to get to know new friends. I was returning to Ripon for the third year in a row, and I am proud to have developed a special relationship with the Cathedral and the committed audience of concertgoers that do so much to support music in the area. Returning to Ely for the second year in a row, it really is incredible to hear the guitar reverberating around the inspiring Lady Chapel with its seven-second (yes, seven) acoustic decay! Once again, the atmosphere at Ely Cathedral was spellbinding and this really was a special evening for me. Incidentally, I flew to Finland the day after following a meagre five hours sleep – the life of a classical guitarist is always colourful!

Ripon Cathedral, Thursday 14th May 2015 (photograph by Helen Tabor)

Following another great concert at Wells Cathedral, the tour concluded in the majestic setting of Winchester Cathedral. This is arguably England’s greatest space of worship, housing the longest nave in Europe, and is a truly spectacular place to be in. My first performance in Winchester, this was a marvellous way for the tour to end. The audience was incredibly welcoming and receptive and I very much look forward to returning there next year.

To conclude, I would just like to thank all of those individuals who helped make the 2015 tour such a great success, including everyone involved with the organisation of the concerts and, of course, the wonderful audiences. At the time of writing, I am currently in the process of organising the 2016 UK Tour itinerary. This promises to be my most ambitious tour yet, with an exciting updated programme of virtuosic proportions and more performance dates than ever before. To keep up to date on announcements regarding 2016 dates keep your eye on the Forthcoming Concerts page and sign up to the mailing list by visiting the Contact page. Looking forward to seeing you all next year!

© Michael Christian Durrant 2018